The Achilles tendon, a large tendon that connects the calf muscles with the heel bone, was named after the character Achilles in Greek Mythology. Like Superman, this spot above his heel bone was the only part susceptible to damage, and ultimately it was his downfall. While you might not be a mythological figure, if you are a runner you may be predisposed to this common cause of heel pain. When your Achilles tendon starts to ache and cause you problems, our podiatrist Dr. Douglas Robinson can help you get this issue under control.
What causes Achilles tendonitis?
So why are you suddenly dealing with pain above the heel bone? This inflammatory condition typically occurs as a result of overuse. If you suddenly increase the intensity or duration of your daily runs, you may notice an aching or throbbing above the heel. Any activities that put too much pressure on this tendon can lead to micro-tears, which result in inflammation. We see this problem often in athletes, particularly long-distance and endurance runners.
Those who overpronate, as well as those with flat feet, are also more likely to develop Achilles tendonitis. If you wear running shoes that are old and worn out, they won’t be able to provide the feet with the proper stability that they need, which can make tendon inflammation worse.
How is Achilles tendonitis treated?
You can try and treat the problem on your own, especially if your heel pain is minor. The goal is to give your tendon the ample rest that it needs to heal from these mini-injuries and reduce inflammation. Some simple home solutions for managing your Achilles tendon symptoms include,
- Rest and limited activities (do not run or do any intense activities that put pressure on the tendon)
- Pain relievers
- Custom orthotics crafted by our podiatry team
- Physical therapy to strengthen the soft tissue in the feet and ankles
When should I see a doctor?
If you’ve never experienced heel pain before or if the pain is impacting your daily routine and making it difficult to get around, then it’s time to turn to our podiatrist. Dr. Robinson will ask you questions about your symptoms, review your medical history, perform a physical assessment of the affected foot and even run imaging tests. From there, we can determine whether your heel pain is the result of Achilles tendonitis or something else.
For more severe injuries that aren’t responding to rest and home care, our doctor may recommend alternative therapies such as ultrasound or shockwave therapy or steroid injections to target severe inflammation and pain. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the damaged areas of the tendon.
While Achilles tendonitis may be managed through rest and home care, if you ever have concerns about the health of your feet or any issues you may be having, know that Dr. Robinson and his podiatry team here in Campbell, CA, is here for you.